Staff and pupils at an Erdington school who wanted to revitalise a corner of their playground dedicated to a much-missed pupil have been overwhelmed by support from across the UK.
Joshua’s Corner, at Brookvale Primary School in Erdington, was established after the tragic death of Joshua Brown, in 2011, to provide a peaceful place for quiet contemplation for youngsters.
Now, thanks to donations from not only Birmingham people but kind-hearted supporters from Sheffield to Stourport, Joshua’s Corner has received an amazing makeover, with the creation of a Peace Garden.
In February, Pastoral Manager Steve Hale set pupils a challenge to come up with a new, revitalised design for the corner using 3D models to illustrate their vision.
“Children come up with the most amazing ideas and suggestions,” Steve explained, “We wanted ‘blue sky’ thinking, and that’s what we got. There were detailed 3-D models made by children, with ideas ranging from waterslides to a farm!
“The winning design wanted to honour Joshua’s memory and keep the corner as a quiet place for contemplation.
“Their idea was to have somewhere on the school site where, if a child was finding a day challenging, they could use it for personal contemplation, while it could also be used by families to socialise, as they waited for their children at the end of the school day.”
“The remarkable thing about this project is that all the materials have been donated by caring and understanding people,” Steve said, “Everything from the shrubs, pots, canes, flowers, water features, carved seats, mulch, bamboo, rocks, bricks, statues and more have been donated free of charge,”
– Pastoral Manager Steve Hale
With a design chosen, Brookvale needed to find the materials to bring it to life – and that’s when the local community – and people across the UK – swung into action to help the school, which is part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership.
“The remarkable thing about this project is that all the materials have been donated by caring and understanding people,” Steve said, “Everything from the shrubs, pots, canes, flowers, water features, carved seats, mulch, bamboo, rocks, bricks, statues and more have been donated free of charge.
“People from Erdington have generously donated, but the magic of social media helped us spread our request far and wide. People have donated items from Nottingham, Leicester, Stourport, Sheffield, Bromsgrove, Burntwood, Kidderminster to Derby,” he said.
Volunteers and staff gave up evenings and weekends to rebuild Joshua’s Corner, and Steve was determined to ensure that lockdown didn’t see the project lose momentum.
“As soon as movement restrictions were lifted I was back to travelling around the Midlands picking up donated items and moving the project forward,” he explained, “this was a more than just a project, it has real meaning, worth and relevance.”
Among the local supporters were Suzanne Hill and Sharon Smith of B&Q in Erdington, who organised a donation of 600 litres of soil and 60 rolls of turf.
Now the school is planning to host a family picnic to which they will invite all the people who made donations – many of whom requested weekly updates on progress and pictures of the new-look Joshua’s Corner taking shape.
Headteacher Stuart Day said: “I am absolutely thrilled to see such an important area of our school given the love and care it rightly deserves and we hope that it continues to not only provide an area for quiet contemplation, but also acts as a lasting memorial for Joshua.
“Over the period of school closure, it has been wonderful to see the Peace Garden come into existence through the hard work and dedication of Mr Hale and our children, who have now, I can say become avid gardeners.
“The transformation has been truly spectacular; from Astroturf to lush greenery and flowers, already teeming with new wildlife, including a plethora of butterfly species as we as a family of newts. I know the children will spend many hours enjoying this space recreationally and as part of our science curriculum.
“Our community is such an important part of who we are and I am, yet again, humbled by the generosity that has been shown through the kind donations, both locally and further afield. I’d like to express my sincere thanks to all those who have made this possible.”